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Toward the Unknown (1956)

Approved  |   |  Drama, History, Romance  |  October 1956 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 350 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 5 critic

At the dawn of supersonic flight in the 1950s a group of Edwards Air Force Base experimental aircraft test pilots push themselves to the limit.



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Complete credited cast:
Maj. Lincoln Bond
Brig. Gen. Bill Banner
Virginia Leith ...
Connie Mitchell
Col. 'Mickey' McKee
Maj. Bromo Lee
Lt. Gen. Bryan Shelby
Lt. Col. Joe Craven
2nd Lt. Sweeney
Polly Craven
Bartlett Robinson ...
Senator Black
Hank - Bell Technical Rep.
Ralph Moody ...
Harvey Gilbert
Maura Murphy ...
Sarah McKee
Carol Kelly ...


USAF Major Lincoln Bond is captured, tortured and released from a POW camp in Korea. After the war he returns to the US where he is re-assigned as a test pilot at the Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base. The Air Force is testing the new experimental aircraft Gilbert XF-120 fighter. The acceptance of the new aircraft by the Air Force is dependent on successful tests designed to prove the aircraft's reliability and safety. However, when Major Bond flies the prototype he encounters a problem that points out a dangerous structural flaw. This could threaten the aircraft's acceptance by the Air Force and derail the whole project. Major Bond's commanding officer and some of his colleagues start to suspect that Major Bond is imagining things because of his mental condition dating back to his imprisonment and torture in the Korean POW camp. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


So you're going to show the flying right out of it! See more »


Drama | History | Romance | War


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

October 1956 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Einst kommt die Stunde  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The farewell fly-by honoring Lloyd Nolan's character was led by "Pete" Everest (Frank Everest), accompanied by Iven Kincheloe, Lou Schalk, Stu Childs and Robert M. White. All were famous Edwards AFB test pilots. See more »


Early in the film when Bond observes General Banner crash his aircraft, it's referred to as an "F-102". In reality the hulk that Banner is pulled from is a Convair XF-92, the experimental predecessor to the F-102 Delta Dagger. See more »


Brig. Gen. Bill Banner: [to Maj. Lincoln Bond] Even with torture, you're not the kind to crack.
See more »


Referenced in The Story of Esther Costello (1957) See more »


The U.S. Air Force
by Robert Crawford
See more »

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User Reviews

It's mainly Great, a hash of both good and bad...
14 September 1999 | by (Long Beach) – See all my reviews

I think this is one of the best films on the gritty business of flight testing--back in the days before a bad airplane could be tested inside a computer program.

In several respects, it is a film of its time, with a young L.Q. Jones as a bumbling staff officer, a "love interest" and a sub-plot showing the protagonist, played by Bill Holden, as an agonized alumni of a Korean POW camp. In one of several galling items, he has made an attempt on his own life before the action began, but he is accepted as a test pilot anyway--which is absolutely bogus. Aircraft manufacturers are portrayed badly--which, in the main, the relevant history doesn't support. Disregard of orders is treated with unrealistic indulgence by a commander.

Read Scott Crossfield's autobiography for some corrects on this.

On the other hand, some of the action is simply great. A mythical bomber develops a metal fatigue problem in the air, which another pilot cannot duplicate. Several weeks later, the plane's wing once again fails and this time it costs a third pilot his life. (My personal take on this--there's a big difference between "fixing" the blame and fixing the problem.)

At this point and at several others, the film is a worthy complement to the Edwards AFB scenes of "The Right Stuff". The photography is simply stunning.

12 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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